Assif Mandvi (Spider-Man 2, The Internship) plays Ash Vasudevan in Disney’s Million Dollar Arm. He is J.B. Bernstein’s (Jon Hamm) business partner and co-founder of the Million Dollar Arm Contest. I joined a group of bloggers and sat with Assif and talked about his favorite moment from the film, working with not one but two sets of twins on set and we also learned about what he’s working on next.
So what was your favorite scene to film in the Film and why?
AASIF : My favorite scene to film. It was really actually fun going to India and shooting because you know, having been born there and have family there and having visited India many times, it’s a whole different experience when you go with an American Film Crew to India. It’s actually the best way to see India is to be in the bubble of a big Hollywood Production. You don’t have to deal with any riff raff [LAUGHTER] going around, you know, in an Air Conditioned car and stuff. But it was great, it was just an amazing experience to go to India. I got to see the Taj Mahal, which I’ve always wanted to and never had. And now I got to do it on Disney’s dime so you know, so it was kind of great.
I liked the way your Character was the funny man next to Jon Hamm’s straight man. Was that what attracted you to the Character or what was it that made you want to do this Film?
AASIF I think he’s (Ash) funny but he’s also the grounding character. He’s the one that sort of is the counter point to Jon Hamm’s Playboy Lothario character. I like that aspect of it. I also feel like, it was an interesting character to see as — a South Asian Sports Agent because I don’t know any. I’m sure there are but it was sort of an interesting character to play, somebody I never played before so I felt that was kind of fun.
And then I got to work with Jon Hamm every day who is dreamy so… [LAUGHTER] so you know, I got do that.
Talk about working with Madhur and Suraj on set.
AASIFYeah, they’re great. You know, cause I’m a lot older than them so they sort of became like little brothers to me. Suraj is really nice and easy going. And Mad was kind of a pain in the ass. So I had that very sort of familial relationship with the two of them. It was really fun to get to work with other Indian Actors, which is so rare. Usually, you’re the only South Asian Actor on a Hollywood Movie set.
What was it like working with the twins?
AASIF OK, so they had two sets of Twins. So it wasn’t the same, but you can’t tell because they’re Indian and probably look alike. [LAUGHTER] But if you watch closely, you see that they’re
actually two sets of different Twins. The twins that I’m feeding in the kitchen are not the same twins that I’m holding on the Porch.
So we’ve got two sets of Indian parents who have these two sets of twins and the parents are sort of hiding off in the corner and the kids would just cry. The scenes weren’t about these kids crying but Craig Gillespie the Director, would say, kids cry … so let him just cry. We couldn’t stop them from crying. Craig’s theory was like every time we see Ash and his children, his children are just screaming. And that’s just the reality of his life. So in the bed, they’re crying. They weren’t supposed to be crying. In the Kitchen, they’re crying.
And then, the piece de resistance is that on the porch, the kids were again, crying and I’m supposed to be holding them, and the kid is literally screaming for his Mother. He’s just like, I want to be with my Mom. And finally I said to Craig, ‘Listen, I can’t do this anymore.’ And Craig was like, ‘Listen, we’ve got to get this shot, OK? We need this shot.’ I pick up the kid, he’s holding on to my hair, and I say come on, come on sweetie, come on. And we go running on to the porch and I’m standing there getting the shot. I’m shaking him to calm him down and then suddenly he looks at me and just puked. [LAUGHTER] And it’s just all over my clothes, my hair. And twice, he did it twice. it’s in the Movie. So it’s totally real.
What was it like portraying a real live person instead of making it up totally and what kind of inspiration did you get from the actual Ash?
AASIF: I’ve known Ash from before I did this Movie. He’s not married. He doesn’t have kids. He’s very different than the Ash in the movie so I didn’t really worry about trying to portray him at all. I just created a character for the purposes of the film because the real Ash is more like JB in the sense of he’s kind of like a single, touch guy in San Francisco.
It was interesting to play someone who actually is a real person. I’d never done that before, so now people always want to take pictures of the two of us together. And he’s thrilled because like I said, we’ve known each other for a long time. So it’s exciting for him to have somebody he knows actually portray him in the film so it was good.
Have you grown to love Cricket?
AASIF: I actually grew up in England so I sort of played Cricket as a kid, like in the street outside my house and in School and stuff. So I’m actually more familiar with Cricket than I am with Baseball.
Are you working on any new projects right now?
AASIF: I’m actually doing an HBO Series called “The Brink” with Jack Black and Tim Robbins. That’s gonna come out next year. It’s a comedy about the End of the world and sort of like the brink being like the world is on the brink of Armageddon. It’s a Geo-Political comedy. It’s sort of like seen through the eyes of 3 departments of US Government so State Department, Foreign Service, and the Military but it’s a comedy. And it’s a half hour. And I have a book coming out at the end of the year. So you guys can all blog about that. The book is called “No Land’s Man” and it’s basically, stories of my life from growing up as a kid in England to moving to Florida and being a High School Student in Florida and then coming to New York, and my career. It’s sort of essays, humorous essays that are kind of Sedarisesque stories. That’s coming out in November.
Take the entire family to see it Million Dollar Arm. It’s in theaters now!
* I attended an all-expense paid press trip courtesy of Disney/ABCTV/Disney XD. The review is in our own words and is our opinion.